Tuesday, 22 November 2011

We will not pay for their crisis, join the fightback on N30

We now stand at 28 trade unions who have balloted and voted yes for strike action next wednesday the 30th of November. This could possibly be the biggest day of action since the first day of the 1926 general strike.

The titanic strike of 30 November in Britain will display the colossal power of the working class through the trade unions, to resist the savage cuts demanded by the capitalists and their political representatives, the Con-Dem austerity coalition.

It also presents a unique opportunity that must not be lost for the leaders and ranks of the trade unions to reach big audiences of working people.

Many will be involved in mass action for the first time and therefore can be receptive to discussion and debate about a real alternative to the future of unrelieved misery, 'planned poverty', promised by Osborne and Cameron with Clegg and Co in tow.

The PCS civil service union has already proposed an immediate alternative to Osborne's £81 billion worth of cuts over four years.

It demands the collection of the massive £120 billion unpaid tax of big business which, if implemented, would render the cuts completely unnecessary. The Socialist Party and the whole labour movement support this demand.

However, the speed and depth of the present crisis of capitalism and its devastating effect on the lives of millions of workers in Britain and worldwide poses sharply the issue, not just of immediate measures that offer some relief for working people, but of more profound solutions, of 'system change'. This means outlining and fighting for a democratic socialist alternative.

The powerful and inspirational mass movements of the Greek workers have heroically battered away at the foundations of rotten Greek capitalism.

Their counterparts in Spain, Portugal, Italy and here in Britain, in this decisive movement of 30 November, seek to emulate them.

It is also articulated in the tremendous 'Occupy' movement, which in the last months has swept through 1,000 cities worldwide and touched every continent.

Moreover, this first breeze of the class struggle - which foreshadows the storms and hurricanes to come - has even touched the summits of capitalism.

A founder of the far from radical Independent newspaper, Andreas Whitham Smith, recently stunned readers by telling them that the threat of "revolution" was stalking "Western capitalism".

However, this was not the deathbed repentance and repudiation of a former stalwart of capitalism but a warning to the capitalists themselves of the need for 'change' in the structure and organisation of their system in order to avoid such a 'nightmare'.

Not one of the leaders of the main political parties in Britain is proposing serious change. David Cameron, pressed on all sides by the increasing unpopularity of the venal system he presides over, poses as an alternative, mythical 'moral markets', a contradiction in terms.

Obscene bankers' bonuses, eye-watering and growing inequality, sky-rocketing poverty and unemployment are to be underpinned by the cement of a new capitalist 'morality'.

This represents an attempt by the apostles of capitalist slavery to reconcile us to the perpetuation of this failing system.

We can imagine Cameron's reply: "The talent and ability of bankers and the chief execs of top companies should receive their due rewards. Without them, we are doomed."

Ed Miliband, the New Labour leader, fares no better with his appeal for a "better capitalism", counterposing "productive" capitalism, which is 'good' to "predator" capitalism, which is 'bad'.

In reality, these are just different wings of the brutal profit system and are linked together in perpetuating the current deadly paralysis of society.

at least 200 million unemployed in the world who increasingly form a substratum of the poor, homeless and dispossessed.

Eighty-one million of this figure is composed of young people - who are condemned to a life of 'worklessness'. There is almost a 50% rate of unemployed young people in Spain and 40% in Greece.

Added to this are the seven million in Britain and 1.6 billion worldwide in part-time 'precarious' jobs.

They are a 'precariat', a modern manifestation of Marx's "reserve army of the unemployed". This is a pool of cheap, sometimes almost slave labour - including young people working as 'interns' for nothing.

They may be drawn into work when needed and then conveniently tossed aside like an old boot when the economic cycle of capitalism deems they are 'surplus to requirements'.

It is important we turn out in our numbers on the day and not just make this a nice day off work but a real show of solidarity across the working class. Bringing together public and private sector workers. Linking up teh occupations with teh construction workers and sparks who are facing struggles too.

We support a 'Robin Hood tax' on the transactions of big business. But history shows that the capitalists always find a million and one ways to circumvent any law which seeks to claw back some of the wealth and eats into their profits.

When the Labour government of Harold Wilson attempted to do something similar through a corporation tax in the 1970s, such was the opposition of big business it was completely watered-down and rendered largely ineffective.

The only way to prevent this is through the nationalisation of the banks and finance houses. Similarly, the 'dictatorship of the market', which is holding the whole of Europe to ransom, should be met with the cancellation of the debt to the bond parasites.

This in turn could only succeed if nationalisation was carried through not just in one country but on a continental and world basis.

Inequality is intrinsic to capitalism. The exploitation of the working class - the capitalists garner what Marx called 'unpaid labour' in the form of profits - is the very foundation of the system.

From this flow all the inequalities and the class antagonisms which shape this society. The system can go ahead for a while as long as the surplus is invested in productive industry to create more factories and thereby the production of more goods and services.

But it stagnates and falls back when the restricted incomes of the working class - particularly marked in the last few decades - means they cannot buy back fully the goods and services they produce.

This results in 'overproduction', a glut of unsold goods and redundant workers and capital. This, in turn, can produce a 'death spiral' reflected in the paralysis of production evident throughout the world today.

Combine all this clear evidence of the wasteful character of the system with the extraordinary mass movements - Greece, Italy, Spain, Britain on 30 November, etc - and it is clear that capitalism faces one of its greatest threats in its long history.

In fact, a new social system is knocking at the door of history. This is the idea of a socialist democratically planned and organised economy and society. To usher it in requires a movement and the urgent building of a mass workers' party.

Ironically, this current threat to capitalism arises from its very triumph following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the downfall of Stalinism.

The consequent dismantling of the planned nationalised, economies and its replacement by 'wild capitalism' represented a big ideological victory for capitalism.

This in turn moved the leaders of parties such as the old Labour Party, at its base a 'workers' party', and the trade unions to the right, leading to the transformation of these parties largely into pro-capitalist formations.

This meant that the capitalists no longer needed to look over their shoulders at a threat posed by the working class.

There is no check on their actions as there had been previously. Capitalism was therefore unrestrained in pursuing the policies of financialisation which were already underway in the late 1970s and 1980s.

In this sense, it became its own gravedigger, manifested in the economic madness of debt-driven capitalism; financial bubbles on top of financial bubbles, which collapsed like a house of cards in 2007-2008.

The consequences of this are evident in the idle factories, workplaces and the tragedy of the millions of 'idle hands' which presently litter the economic landscape of world capitalism.

It is true support for a socialist alternative will not develop easily or automatically given the relentless anti-socialist, pro-capitalist propaganda of the last two decades.

It has to be argued for and explained, particularly when the working class is on the move, as it will be on 30 November.

But support in the polls for the 'Occupy' movements has demonstrated the broad support for a better world.

The '99%' does not yet have a full understanding, consciousness, of how to achieve that alternative. Even those involved in the 'Occupy' movement know what they don't want but do not have a clear alternative.

Yet their aims can only be realised through real 'system change', socialism. Brutal capitalism is demonstrating daily the blind alley which this system is in and is preparing the ground for millions to search for an alternative.

Capitalism is incapable of satisfying human requirements in today's world. Socialism is the idea which will dominate the 21st-century.

extracts taken from this excellent article by Peter Taaffe on the socialist party website bits of which he talked about in his speech at socialism 2011

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